Struggling to become pregnant can feel like the end of your dreams of building a family. So many couples always imagine themselves conceiving naturally and becoming pregnant, adding to their family the “traditional” way. It can feel unfair when you realize this will never become your reality. However, this doesn’t have to be the end of your goals for building a family. Thanks to advances in medical technology and a greater acceptance for “nontraditional” families, an infertility diagnosis is no longer the end of the road for hopeful parents. Today, there is no right or wrong way to have a child. Hence, we’re going to be exploring what the alternatives are for building a family despite infertility.
The first step for many couples exploring their infertility options is often to try taking fertility drugs. A reproductive endocrinologist will typically examine both partners to see what could be causing the infertility before prescribing medication that may increase sperm production and quality, stimulate ovulation, thicken the uterine lining, and more. It’s important to talk openly and honestly with your doctor to learn which medications may be most helpful for you and your partner.
Sperm, Egg or Embryo Donation
Sometimes it happens that an intended parent does not have a viable egg or sperm for the embryo-creation process, in which case the intended parents may pursue a gamete donation as one of their options for infertility. If this is the path taken, one parent will have a genetic connection to the child, even if both of them can’t. Of course, if neither parent has a healthy egg or sperm, you can also pursue an embryo donation.
If a couple cannot carry a child themselves, surrogacy can be an amazing experience. In this option of the infertility alternatives, an embryo is either donated or created by the intended parents before being implanted into a surrogate’s uterus. The surrogate will carry and deliver the child for the intended parents.
In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate is biologically related to the child she carried. However, because of the emotional and legal complications involved, this type of surrogacy is rarely practiced today. Instead, the most common kind of surrogacy is gestational, which means the surrogate has no relation to the child she carries. In fact, gestational surrogacy often involves the use of the intended parents’ own gametes, which allows them to be the biological parents of their baby.
Hear from our guest on her real life experience exploring surrogacy as an alternative to infertility
Adoption is a more common option of the infertility alternatives. where a parent brings a child they are not genetically related to into their family. In this family-building method, the adoptive parents have nothing to do with the conception of the child, however it is not strictly used as an infertility alternative. There are many different forms of modern-day adoption, including:
Private domestic adoption: The adoption of a child within a country from a woman who has independently chosen to place her baby for adoption. In this form of adoption, a pregnant woman gets to choose her adoption plan as well as her child’s adoptive family, and adoptive parents raise the baby from birth. Adoptive parents and birth parents often have a relationship as the child grows.
International adoption: The adoption of a child (typically an older child or one with special needs) from a foreign country. Foster care adoption: If a child in the foster care system is legally free to be adopted, it means his or her biological parents have had their rights terminated by the court. The biological parents are no longer eligible to regain custody of their child, and so the child is now free to be adopted by a permanent adoptive family. Adoption, of course, is not a cure for infertility. Rather, this is a separate family-building method for families who are more interested in being parents than being pregnant or having a genetic relationship to a child.